WhatsApp Web – Communication has evolved a lot over the years, thanks to social media. Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp have been keen players in recent years. With the development in smartphones, access to the internet and social media become too simple, and that’s how WhatsApp gained its market share as a messaging app. Right from the day of launch in 2019, WhatsApp has come a long way with respect to features, UI, efficiency, and support.
WhatsApp web was launched for Windows and Mac operating system by May 10, 2016, since then there has been a significant development in the web app as well. In this article, we’ll understand how effective is the WhatsApp web and what difference it makes for security and communication in total.
What is WhatsApp Web?
WhatsApp web is a system application launched for operating systems as an alternative for its mobile version. Users who are comfortable using laptops or desktops are using this version of it for simplified and easy messaging.
How to set up the WhatsApp web?
All it takes is a browser and the WhatsApp mobile app on your smartphone. Visit https://web.whatsapp.com/ and then switch to settings in the mobile app, and scan the QR code from the browser to kick start your desktop messaging.
What can WhatsApp web do?
Similar to your mobile version, WhatsApp web will allow to send and receive messages from the browser using any browser. In addition to this, the web and mobile version sync the messages and images so it will appear on both the devices. And WhatsApp web comes with some extra settings, which will allow you to set alerts for incoming messages with or without sound for an hour, day or week.
Who can use it?
WhatsApp Web is supported on Windows and Mac operating systems. It runs on Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. Excluding Safari on the iPad.
Features of WhatsApp web
One of the prime highlights of WhatsApp is its instant and efficient messaging, that has been very effective, reliable.
Create group chats to keep in touch with your friends, family, and colleagues.
You can also broadcast messages to your fellow mates, by handpicking them manually based on the target audience.
Communicate over text, voice or video calls instantly with all freedom and quality over the connection.
Not all conversations do need a pop-up alert, you can mute the conversations to stay undisturbed during your busy hours. Mute if for an hour, a week or year.
Sharing the most memorable moments with your contacts is another charming addition to their perks of connecting people. Started with Insta, now it’s here with WhatsApp and Facebook as well.
Sharing contacts and documents
With attachments, your messaging can go hand-in-hand for many other reasons. Share the contact with your friend without typing in those phone number manually.
Share your live location
Sharing the location for your friend, allowing him to set this as the destination via Google maps for easy navigation has been another value addition along with the live tracking (GPS) till 8 hours.
Emojis and GIFs
Introduction of emojis and GIFS have already spiced up things in instant messaging, thanks to the creative and instant memes.
Whatsapp web’s security
WhatsApp work based on end-to-end encryption. All messages, photos, videos, audio messages, video and audio calls are safely encrypted and secured from being eavesdropped or breached into.
Unlike other messaging apps which encrypts messages only between you and them, WhatsApp’s encryption ensures that even their developers or support personnel will not be able to see the messages that are being transferred, only the receiver and sender will have the key to decrypt their messages, and guess what all these encryption procedures are automated.
Understanding the end-to-end encryption
WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption was designed by Open Whisper Systems. This signal protocol works on different types of keys for encryption and decryption. Public keys like Identified key pair, signed key pair, One-time pre keys, and session keys like Root, Chain and Message keys.
During the registration process, the client sends public keys and one-time pre keys to the WhatsApp server. This server will not have access to any of these keys but does them as per user identifier. To message another user, the primary client first needs to create an encrypted session, then there won’t be any additional sessions required until the current one is lost due to device switch or app reinstallation.
Once the encryption session is up, the sender can start sending messages to the other user. The sender keeps adding the information until the receiver responds, which includes the sender’s initiator and the initiator. Then the receiver uses the one-time pre-key and chain keys to calculate the master_secret.
Clients will start exchanging messages which will be secured using a message key for encryption and HMAC-SHA256 for authentication.
The message key is unique for every message and it is ephemeral, stating this key cannot be created again after sending those messages. Apart from the message key, the chain key is used for ECDH agreement. This brings in complete roundtrip security for all the messages using the ‘ratchets’.
Any large attachments including images, videos, and other documents are end-to-end encrypted. The user sends a 32-byte AES256 key and HMAC-SHA257 key, the sender has encrypted the same using CBC mode. The receiver then proceeds to decrypt the received message, checks it using SHA256, MAC address and then decipher it to text language.
Similar to text and media, WhatsApp calls are end-to-end encrypted. Once the user begins the call process, as usual, an encrypted session will be created with the receiver, using the 32-byte SRTP, then once the call is answered this message is then delivered to the receiver with encryption.
The complete call is secured, encrypted and cannot be eavesdropped by any hacker unless they are smart enough to identify the master_secret and decrypt during the call, which is very unlikely to happen.
Group messages and encryption
When a user belonging to a group sends a message, this message is then broadcasted to different members of the group X times (X-group members count) by the WhatsApp server, then the clients of those group would respond with a single X time. Signal Messaging Protocol is employed to identify the ‘Sender keys’ decrypt them and map the server-side to client-side encrypted sessions.
Live location security
Encryption for live location works similar to the group messages framework, but live location uses a very large volume of updates, and hence there could be some lags at times, but a fast ratcheting could help resolve this issue.
Communication between the server and clients runs on a different unique encrypted channel. Noise Pipes like AES-GCM, SHA256 and Curver25519 are used for long two way communications, which will offer lightspeed connections that encrypts metadata files from out of network breaches, confidential user identity management, limited storage on the servers, since the agents have their own set of Curve25519 key pair, the public key is the only available key for WhatsApp server, so if any breach happens at the server there is no personal information available for the hackers to be exploited.
WhatsApp has implemented all these securities for the web version as well, and this web application is a masterpiece for instant messaging.
- An end-to-end encrypted messaging platform
- Servers do not store any private information of the users
- Simple and easy to install, all that it needs is a QR code scan
- Separate encryption channel between client and server
- Reliable and easy messaging
- Intuitive UI that is very responsive
- Very less data consumption
- Application is hosted on browsers and because of it app security can be tested
- Definitely not as friendly as the mobile application, thanks to the huge screen with reduced privacy
- Facebook’s recent reputation towards data security will make us question the reliability of their end-to-end encryption model in WhatsApp.
- A recent data breach on WhatsApp using Spyware left the number of users to question its usage and security.
Usage of instant messaging has become a very vital part of our current life, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Hike, or Instagram they have their own messaging protocols and application developers need to understand the depth of security keys and define their frameworks accordingly, because hackers are actively looking for vulnerabilities to exploit and privacy being another major concern after so many data protection laws.
WhatsApp can still evolve with a number of other features, thanks to virtual reality and AI developments in the market. But with more technology into our daily life, people will start losing their privacy ultimately. Bringing in more strict data protection and privacy laws only can restrain big data utilization firms from exploiting users data and their privacy.
Here are some key metrics on WhatsApp usage,
- WhatsApp currently has around 1.5 billion users across 180 countries
- 65 billion messages sent per day
- One billion active users, with US market counting to 23 million
- Three million users for WhatsApp business
- 55 million calls are made per day
Why should you start using WhatsApp web
Though there is a number of other alternatives like emails, messenger, LinkedIn, etc WhatsApp stands out for its unique means communication with a reliable and end-to-end encryption security framework, offering complete data security and privacy to the users.
With its robust features and crystal clear UI WhatsApp is still the number one instant messaging app in the market, though WeChat, Viber, Hike all soon followed its path none lived up to the expectations and has only less number of users compared to WhatsApp. With slight addition to UPI payment procedures, this application could be a complete suit for any user. If you do have any specific queries related to WhatsApp web version, please check here.
Apart from the normal end-user version, WhatsApp also comes for businesses allowing the business to establish communication with its customers and maintain their customer relationship in a healthy way. Apart from this, they are also looking to establish some partnership with e-commerce, airlines, and banks to deliver information related to courier deliveries, flight arrival/departure and more.
If you are yet to download WhatsApp for your desktops and laptops, please do the same from the website mentioned, WhatsApp web: https://www.whatsapp.com/download/
Try this version of WhatsApp and let us know how effective and reliable is your messaging with the web version of it.